We are sharing stories from our Story Starters volunteers to spread the word about the importance of the work they do and the lasting difference they make to the children they support.  

Volunteering on a weekly basis, our Story Starters volunteers provide one-to-one support to children aged 3 – 5 in local early years settings (e.g. nurseries) helping to introduce them to the wonderful world of books and stories whilst developing essential language and communication skills that will help them to start school ready to read.  

 

Apply to become a Story Starters volunteer here 

Alison has been volunteering in Rothwell, Northamptonshire since April 2018. She recently retired from teaching in the early years and primary sectors and wanted to continue use her skills to help children who are lacking crucial early language and reading skills. 

What is the best bit about volunteering as a Story Starters? 

It’s building up a relationship with the children and seeing them gain in confidence. Two of the children I’ve worked with were quite reluctant to interact with adults, so it’s been great to see them want to talk to me. A really special moment was when my most reluctant child came straight up to me and said “What’s in your bag today? Can we go and have a story now?” It had taken a few weeks for him to gain confidence so I felt so pleased that he wanted to come with me to the session, rather than me devising strategies to encourage him!  

It's also very entertaining to create different activities with the children. A successful activity was based around Elmer, the main character in the Elmer the Elephant series. I cut out an Elmer shape that fitted on to the front cover of the book and they used it as a prop to help me tell the story. They loved it so much that over the course of the few sessions they coloured in Elmer and we even made a background jungle picture to stick him on to. After about three weeks they proudly presented their works of art to their respective teachers and just wallowed in the praise that followed! 

What would you say to anyone who is interested in becoming a Story Starters volunteer? 

I’d say just give it a go and enjoy sharing all the different stories! However competent or confident you are (or not) at reading to children they will get so much from sharing lovely books together with an adult. My three children had been chosen partly because they came from large families where there was very little one-to-one time with an adult, so I felt every minute I spent with them was a bonus. 

You can apply to become a Story Starters volunteer here  

Find our other ways you can volunteer with Beanstalk here